Sunday, May 3, 2015

Master Keaton Case 5: Paris Under the Roof

Case 5:  Paris Under the Roof


The night sky is filled with smoke and rubble lines the streets; the Nazis have bombed London to near oblivion during the Blitz. As men sift through the rubble and try to make some semblance of order out of the chaos a man named Professor Yuri Scott tells the surrounding men that they should resume class.

“The enemy is doing all it can to rob us of our ambition. If we don’t continue to learn we’ll soon be in the hands of Hilter. Now let’s study! We’ll remain strong if we’re together! And we’ll make it through this dreadful war that’s brought out the worst in human beings: hatred and murder. We’ll build a new civilization!” 

As construction surrounds a busy adult education center in France, Keaton strives to teach his students about history and archaeology. Keaton is currently lecturing on the Minoan civilization and students ask questions and debate on how if there are no pyramids in Europe, that they could be remotely connected with Egypt, from whence the Minoan civilization originated.  Keaton dismisses class and some students stay after to chat with him.  They remark on enjoying his lectures and one man states they are a fitting end to the final classes, and gives Keaton a B+.

Keaton, embarrassed, says a B+ is fine as he oftentimes got worse grades than that in school.  We see a memory of an older Yuri Scott slamming Keaton’s thesis on his desk and telling him of his grade:  a D-.  His students are shocked that their teacher, who clearly knows his stuff, would get a failing mark.  Keaton chats later with the President of the school, who again brings up that the school is holding its final classes.  We discover that the school is being torn down to make way for a home for the elderly.  The classroom Keaton teaches in however has a very special mural by Pegart (sorry for the spelling, I couldn’t find anything to help on how the name would be spelt) and a man from the French ministry is coming to look at the mural and judge its authenticity.  Buildings surrounding the school are being torn down as Keaton and the President talk; the school has gone far past its demolition date but the President hopes that Keaton will finish his final classes and has asked that the men inspecting the mural not interrupt Keaton’s class.

The two’s discussion is interrupted by the inspector himself, whom snidely surveys the room and asks why they are still holding classes when they are past the demolition date.  As Keaton heads to his apartment he opens the door only to see a strange young woman standing gazing at the city through his window.  Finally, after four episodes and a few mentions we are finally introduced to Keaton’s daughter Yuriko.  Yuriko is a middle school student and seems completely unfazed by Keaton’s constant address changes.  Yuriko is just as intelligent as her father, and is also interested in ancient civilizations and cultures (we find out more about this in the manga however where people claim the two must be older brother and younger sister, not father and daughter).  Yuriko goes up to the roof while Keaton prepares lunch for them and asks about her mother who has apparently been promoted to Professor.

 Keaton chides his daughter on her childishness as he climbs onto the roof after her, claiming an 8th grader shouldn’t be doing such things, only for Yuriko to admonish him on forgetting her age:  she is in Senior High and even as forgetful as her father can be he should at least remember that.  Keaton apologizes, saying that he hasn’t forgotten she’s growing up, just that he will always think of her as his little girl.  Yuriko then drops the bombshell that her mother might just be getting married.  Keaton sounding defeated at the fact that his ex-wife has been seeing someone, asks Yuriko to tell him what the man is like.  Yuriko admits she’s kidding, and says that her mother is busy working on her reports so she came to France to visit her father for a vacation.  As Yuriko jokes about their meal and it not being perfect if she can’t have wine Keaton tells her she isn’t old enough to drink.  See Yuriko?  Your father isn’t that forgetful of your age!

The two chat and watch the scenery when Yuriko asks Keaton how his teaching job in Paris is going.  Yuriko seems to think it isn’t going well but Keaton says that it’s fine, it’s just a shame the school is being destroyed in a few short days.  Keaton laments he doesn’t have the good fortune or talent to be an archeologist, which Yuriko vehemently denies, saying he’s an amazing person who shouldn’t let his dream get away from him.
“You see…archaeology is like an attic, few people rummage through it.”  Keaton tells her, before he states that his study room in college was also like an attic.  We then flashback to Keaton and his fellow students in college discussing ideas with Professor Yuri Scott where a young Keaton states that he believes another ancient civilizations besides the Egyptians influenced the Europeans but a young Keaton is too afraid to further express his reasons for this being his hypothesis.

Keaton resumes classes the next day with Yuriko in attendance.  Keaton seemingly spurred on by Yuriko’s words the day before, starts a lecture about why he thinks Egypt isn’t the only civilization that helped foster Europe’s development.  Keaton’s students mull over Keaton’s thesis and Keaton is ready to tell them a story discussing his ideas but is cut short by the inspector coming to check out the mural at the back of the classroom.  Keaton’s students look on angrily at the interruption but Keaton attempts to press on with his lecture.  As the inspector and his men further disrupt class Yuriko asks the men to keep quiet so they can finish their class, as Keaton goes to attempt to calm his class down he sees the President of the school meekly standing in the doorway with a defeated look upon her face.  Keaton dismisses class, much to Yuriko’s disappointment, and leaves the room without speaking to his students.

Yuriko, upset with her father, isn’t exactly sure how to lift Keaton’s low spirits and so asks him why he equates attics with archaeology.  Keaton, distracted from his self loathing, relates a story from his childhood.  When he was a boy Keaton loved to draw blueprints and his favorite room to design was the attic.  Keaton says he could imagine countless stories and histories that he could “see” through the attic’s windows.  Archaeology allows Keaton to conjure up the world of the past, see how people lived, and how civilizations flourished.  Keaton tells Yuriko that he thinks he wants to go back to Japan so he can live closer to her.  Keaton tells his daughter he doesn’t mind his insurance job but what he wants more than anything is to be an archaeologist.  He tells Yuriko that he had an amazing professor who allowed Keaton to discover that what he truly wanted to do with his life was pursue a career in archaeology.

We see another of Keaton’s memories, this time Professor Scott has posted a notice for Keaton to meet with him, stating Keaton’s thesis is incomplete.  Keaton’s wife is majoring in Mathematics at a neighboring college and Keaton works in the daytime to make their living…add this to the fact that Keaton’s wife is pregnant and you can see that at this point in his life Keaton had far too much on his plate to really do a good thesis to graduate.  Scott makes Keaton a deal:  he cannot graduate from college with a terrible thesis, and if Keaton has the will he can study even under unfavorable conditions; if Keaton can’t study during the day, why not study at night?  Professor Scott gives Keaton the key to his private study room where Keaton immerses himself in the books therein, and rewrites his thesis paper.  Keaton tells Yuriko that he named her after the Professor, which shows just how much he thinks of the man.

Keaton also tells us that it was actually Professor Scott who originally had the idea about a civilization basing itself around the Danube River.  His ideas were considered unorthodox and heresy and as such he was expelled from the archaeology society shortly after Keaton resubmitted his thesis.  Professor Scott left a letter for Keaton, urging him to continue learning and to become a great archaeologist.  Unfortunately Keaton’s wife left him (taking Yuriko with her) and Keaton never became a fully accredited archaeologist (he did digs and studied but never did the final thesis or PHD work required) and as such didn’t want to try and meet up with Professor Scott for fear of Scott’s disappointment in him.  Keaton joined the SAS and then moved on to his insurance job with Daniel O’Connell.

Keaton, after Yuriko’s reassurances and his own reminiscing, decides that during the last class tomorrow he will tell the story of Professor Scott and his drive to teach even during events like the Blitz and World War II.  The next day the President of the school finds out that the Secretary of Culture is coming to the school to oversee the removal of the mural at the back of Keaton’s classroom.  Keaton lays out his thesis for his students and urges them to keep learning, that they don’t need a classroom to study but before he can give them any more parting words the Secretary of Culture enters the classroom to inspect the mural.  Keaton, admitting his growing disillusionment over the past few days and finally standing up for himself and his students informs the Secretary and his men that class is still in session and he will not end it until the final bell.  Pretty big balls from Keaton, considering this is a high standing person of the government of a foreign country he isn’t a citizen of!

We then go into Keaton’s story, only to see the flashback from the beginning of the episode!  Professor Scott had been invited to do a lecture at the local college when the Blitz occurred and while helping the people of London he also strove to teach them so that future generations could learn from history and increase their own knowledge rather than fall into depression over their current state of affairs.

As Keaton wraps up his speech and receives a standing applause from his students, one of them tells Keaton some surprising news:  that he had previously had a teacher that also had the same exact thesis as Keaton!
Keaton watches as the school is finally brought to the ground and calls Daniel, telling him he has finished his job and that he will be headed back to London.  Yuriko appears and drags her father across town as he questions where they are going to in such a hurry.  Apparently Keaton’s students have decided to throw a party as a farewell gift for him.  Keaton enters the pub to the applause of his students only for his students to step aside and reveal an elderly Professor Scott.  Keaton is stunned to see his teacher standing there in front of him and actually starts to tear up.  Professor Scott praises Keaton for a job well done which finally causes Keaton to burst into tears as the episode ends with Keaton’s class applauding around them.

Overall this is a good episode to see both Keaton’s academic and father sides.  We get some good interactions with Yuriko and we see Keaton doing something he greatly enjoys:  teaching.  We also see that Keaton isn’t as sure of himself as we may have though from the past four episodes.  Keaton has his own self doubts about his career, how his life has progressed, and even about his failed marriage.  This is in pretty stark contrast to the Keaton we’ve grown to know who is a confident ex-military man very sure of himself and ever observant of his surroundings.

My faults with this episode are few.  I’ve never particularly liked Professor Scott as a character.  He provides Keaton with motivation and a sort of fatherly fill-in position but, and maybe this is just my own personal experience here, no professor is like Scott.  Scott is cold and driven.  Being driven about something your passionate about is fine, but he’s a man that doesn’t really seem to offer praise…at least…not to Keaton.  The younger Professor Scott we see in flashbacks to World War II seems a little more willing to give out praise and an easier person to get along with while the older Scott seems more harsh and unforgiving.  My own college experiences may cloud my judgment on this episode but to keep it short I never had professors like Scott.  My professors were unwilling to help and were just as cold, harsh, and unforgiving as the older Scott whom we see the most of in this episode.  However even though I don’t particularly like the character of Professor Scott I can see why Keaton might look up to him.  We get some glimpses in later Cases to Keaton’s life as a boy, but none of them deal with his time living with his father they only deal with his times in England living with his mother.  As such we can deduce that Keaton probably did not have a very strong fatherly figure in his life.  We see in a later Case that Keaton latches onto a male bus driver who teaches him how to appreciate life; and in this episode we see that Professor Yuri Scott is someone Keaton idolizes above all else.  Furthermore Keaton is actually afraid of disappointing his former teacher.  Now I don’t know about you but I never think about what my former teachers would think of my life if I met them now.  Keaton went so far as to even name his only child after said Professor that shows not only dedication but love for a man whom Keaton would only know for a few short years.

It has also always confused me as to how Yuriko tracked down her father and traveled all the way to Paris to visit him.  I guess it's possible she might know Daniel, though the two are never shown interacting, but how would she convince her mother to let her travel to meet her father?  Like we find out a few Cases from now, Yuriko's mother took custody of Yuriko when Keaton and his wife divorced, the same thing happened to Taihei, Keaton's father, when he and Keaton's mother divorced.  I'm not sure on the laws in England but for both Keaton and Yuriko to automatically go to their mother's custody after the divorce seems a little strange to me especially seeing as how Taihei, though sometimes eccentric, had a fairly stable living.  Sure Keaton travels constantly and can get into dangerous work but he at least seems to KEEP TABS ON HIS DAUGHTER!!!  Yuriko's mother either doesn't care or is far too absorbed in her teaching pursuits and thesis' to be a good mother.  I don't know...considering we never once see Ms. Hiraga-Keaton (even in the manga) I suppose I shouldn't be so harsh on her but it infuriates me to no end.

Overall this isn’t a bad episode, but it certainly isn’t one of my favorites.  It has some great character moments for Keaton, allowing us to peer into his psyche and seeing another aspect of his mystery shrouded past.  We are also introduced to our second recurring character of the series:  Keaton's daughter Yuriko.  We get to see more of both her and Daniel in coming Cases but right now we'll be sticking with Keaton until Case 7 when we are introduced to our third recurring character:  Keaton's father Taihei.  But that is discussion for the upcoming episode.

So, since Keaton has been fired from his job as a teacher in London following Case 3 and now that his new teaching job in France is over what is next for our leading man?

Why not ancient tombs, old college friends, and strong willed women?  Tune in next time to see how Keaton, and the tomb, fair against the onward push of progress and modernization.

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